What is condemnation?

Condemnation occurs when a local, state, or federal government seizes private property and compensates the owner. The power of the government to do this is called eminent domain, which essentially means the government takes private property for public use. The property owner is entitled to just compensation for the property during condemnation, but he does not have to give his approval of the sale.

Is condemnation legal?

Yes, condemnation is legal. both the Texas and the United States Constitutions give governments the authority to take private property for public use. However, the government is required to provide just compensation to the property owners for their land.

Can I just handle it myself?

Of course, but I do NOT recommend it. It has often been my experience that landowners who attempt to handle these cases themselves end up with less compensation and fewer protections than they would have received had they hired competent legal counsel. There are several guides on the internet that claim to explain the condemnation process but virtually all of them contain serious errors. Online resources frequently fail to explain the intricacies of the proper presentation of a condemnation case. Many landowners mistakenly believe that if they just present a set of comparable sales to the condemnor that they can increase their compensation. However, by not knowing what the law allows compensation for, landowners often ask for things that disqualify them from being able to settle. Oftentimes a condemnor (such as the State of Texas) will only allow a landowner one attempt at settlement before beginning the condemnation process. Losing this opportunity can be very costly. Landowners often worsen their error by making the same claims to the special commissioners. However, most special commissioners have served in that capacity dozens of times and know what they can and cannot award compensation for. Furthermore, the ability to effectively cross-examine the condemnor's appraiser and present a proper valuation theory is a very difficult task that many people cannot do successfully. Remember, there are no second chances in condemnation. You have one opportunity to be made whole. As such, you should only trust such an important matter to an experienced attorney who specializes in only these kinds of cases.

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